“You’re killing yourself slowly, do you know that?”
“You need to take better care of your health”
“It’s like kissing an ashtray.”
If you’re a smoker, these phrases are probably all too familiar. You get it from non-smokers, or even ex-smokers, every day. How do you feel about your smoking? Think about why you smoke at all. What made you start? You may use it to “help you cope with stress” or to stave off boredom. Maybe it’s purely an addiction. Do you wish you could quit, but just don’t seem to have the will power? Well here are some really good reasons to stop smoking.
It’s expensive! It really is. Your hard-earned money is literally going up in smoke. Do a quick calculation. How much do you spend on cigarettes or tobacco per day? Multiply that by the average of thirty days per month. Scary…? Good! Now, start imagining what you could do with that money if you didn’t burn it. You could try this. Each time you buy a packet of cigarettes, take the equivalent amount of money and put it in a jar. Don’t open the jar or count the money for three or four months. Be honest with yourself, and be disciplined. Keep adding the money each time you buy cigarettes. When a few months have passed, open the jar and count the money. You may just be shocked into quitting! Save it up and spend it on something you can enjoy for more than just a few minutes for example a new best hybrid bike under 500.
Consider your loved ones: Spare a thought for what your second-hand smoke is doing to those around you. Research in the past twenty years has shown that passive smokers are placed at risk of developing all the same complications and ailments as the “active” smoker. It has been linked to respiratory disorders in children. A little unfair, considering that smoking wasn’t their choice.
Enjoy your food! Smoking affects your sense of taste. Yes, it’s true! Bearing in mind that the sense of taste is, in fact, a combination taste and smell; the chemicals in cigarettes interfere with both forms of sensory perception, and can damage the mucous membranes and the taste buds. This will dull your ability to sense the flavours and aromas of the food you eat. Ask any ex-smoker, they’ll tell you how much tastier food seemed, once their taste buds and olfactory system had a chance to recover from the constant onslaught of toxins and chemicals. Wouldn’t it be great to truly taste your favourite foods again?
Love your lungs! Take a deep breath. Hold it… How long can you hold? Thirty seconds? Twenty? Smoking reduces the functionality of the lungs and affects their elasticity. Remember when you were on the swim team, and you could do the entire length of the pool underwater…? You can bet your bottom dollar, as a smoker, you wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. The long-term effects of smoking include shortness of breath, the risk of Emphysema, Asthma, chronic Bronchitis and an increased risk of contracting Pneumonia.
Respect your heart: Smoking also increases the risk of coronary disease. It elevates blood pressure and increases cholesterol. The toxic gases and carbon monoxide cause respiratory distress and affect the circulation, particularly to the extremities. Ultimately, this puts additional pressure on the heart, weakening and damaging it.
Here’s one for the men: over time, smoking decreases the size of your penis. Yes, that’s right. Smoking can hinder healthy blood flow to the tiniest blood vessels, which can hinder blood flow to the penis. The good news is that this damage is reversible – just quit smoking!
The Big “C”: Yes, the dreaded Cancer. Smoking increases your risk of cancer – and not just in the lungs. In fact, smoking has been linked to sixteen different types of cancer, including the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, tongue, lips, oesophagus, liver, bladder and more. Statistically, one in five cancer deaths, is as a result of smoking. Why stack the odds against yourself? Why gamble with your health?
De-odorise your home: Let’s not forget that awful stale smoke smell that seems to cling to everything. Have you ever come home after some time away, and the first thing that hits you as you walk into your home, is that lingering smoke smell? It permeates all the fabrics in the home, including bedding, carpets and curtains. Once you’ve been inside for a few hours, it seems to go away – but it isn’t gone, just that you’ve become accustomed to it. It’s become part of you!
The time line of quitting
Let’s look at what you can expect when you take the first step.
Within twenty minutes of your last cigarette, the heart rate returns to normal. The blood pressure also begins to drop, and circulation improves.
After twelve hours, the body begins to cleanse itself of the excess carbon monoxide and oxygen levels increase.
One day after your last cigarette, your cholesterol levels start to drop, reducing the risk of a heart attack.
After two days, you may notice a heightened sense of smell, as the nerve endings begin to recover.
After three days, the nicotine levels are depleted. This might be why people say the third day is the toughest. At this stage, you may find you’re irritable and moody. You may experience headaches and severe cravings at this stage – stick with it!
A month after you quit, your lung functions start to improve. You will notice you have far more stamina when exercising and you’ll start to breeze through your cardio routine.
For the next two to three months, your circulation will continue to improve. At nine months, the lungs have recovered significantly, and they start to function as they should. Over the next five years, the heart and lungs continue to improve, and the risk of heart disease continues to drop.
Add the fact that you’re saving money, enjoying your food and exercising without feeling like you’re about to collapse. Your general colour will improve and the blood supply to your extremities will normalise. You also don’t smell like an old ashtray…
So, what’s stopping you?